CANOUAN, St. Vincent and the Grenadines – The United States donated patrol boats and communications systems to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Aug. 20 as part of a maritime security assistance initiative that aims to deter threats associated with transnational organized crime.
The initiative, called Secure Seas, provides nine Eastern Caribbean nations with interceptor boats and associated equipment, state-of-the-art command and control communications systems and training and technical support. It is part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a regional security partnership initiative first announced by President Obama during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009.
The Secure Seas program is managed by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), headquartered in Miami, Fla. The U.S. Coast Guard oversees the acquisition of the assets.
The boats improve each nation’s ability to deter illicit trafficking in the maritime environments of the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean and enhance their capabilities to respond to other threats, maritime emergencies, and natural disasters.
Dignitaries attending the donation ceremony in St. Vincent and the Grenadines included Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Larry L. Palmer.
“The interceptor boats and the installed communications systems will provide Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with a distinct edge in detecting, tracking and pursuing suspects, and will facilitate operational efficiency between nations,” said Palmer. (see transcript of Palmer's remarks)
The two Defender-class interceptor vessels are multi-mission capable platforms that can exceed speeds of 40 knots. Nearly identical to the boats used by the U.S. Coast Guard, they are ideal for law enforcement and maritime security. They can also conduct search and rescue missions and are capable of towing small vessels in distress and responding to environmental or natural disasters. The approximate value of the package is $2 million (U.S. dollars).